Google: We defended Cyxymu attack to protect free speech

The saga of Cyxymu, the Georgian blogger who was at the heart of the recent spate of attacks on major websites, continues with a piece of intriguing spin from Google.

Blogger product manager Rick Klau has released a public statement which points out the political nature of the attacks - but also seems to suggest that Google's main objective in repelling the attacks was defending the right to freedom of expression.

"Google collaborated with the other targeted services... to help identify the origins of the attacks and minimise their impact," he writes on the Google Public Policy Blog. "While Blogger was able to withstand the attack this time around, we hope that governments and companies will recognize the threats to free expression that exist today and will work together to ensure that the internet continues to provide many safe havens for dissidents."

While I am a fierce advocate of everyone's right to say what they want, I am interested in the way the company's presenting this story as a successful defence of liberty - and not a more straightforward business decision to keep a valuable service up and running.

For Twitter, Facebook and LiveJournal (which did suffer during the attacks) the cost is more likely to be measured more in terms of lost revenue or inconvenience to other users than how successful in defending right to free expression.

Am I misreading Google's intentions with the post? Possibly, possibly not. Certainly Evgeny Morozov, the researcher who we interviewed on Tech Weeklyabout Cyxymu and is referenced by Google, sees it as a presentation of Google's "good corporate citizenship".

Is Google being genuine? Is it just presenting a kinder side? Does liberty trump prosperity for any public company?

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  1. Of course money matters to them since they're a company, but that doesn't mean they can't want to support free speech as well.